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Two hikers walking on Acatenango volcano summit at sunset, Guatemala.
4.8
| 68 reviews

Guatemala 5 Volcano Challenge

Hike up five of Guatemala's volcanoes - dubbed 'The Ring of Fire' - ending up at spectacular Lake Atitlán

Duration

9 nights

Annual Leave

6 days off work

Group Size

Up to 14 people

Season

All year round

Location

Guatemala

Meeting Point

La Aurora Airport, Guatemala City

Classic Accommodation

Hotel · Wild camping

Customer Reviews

(68)

4.8

Difficulty

Challenging

From

From

Hike to the epic Acatenango summit (3976m) and witness the incredible eruptions of neighbouring Fuego, Guatemala's most active volcano

Take in the views as you stand on top of Tajumulco volcano (4220m): the highest point of Central America

Toast your volcano trekking exploits with sundowners and celebrations beside the dreamy azure waters of Lake Atitlán

Day 1

Explore Antigua

Santa Catalina arch in the historic centre of Antigua, with Agua volcano in the background, Guatemala.

You'll be met at La Aurora International Airport (or in Guatemala City on request) for your transfer to Antigua, Guatemala's ancient capital and the base for the first of your volcano climbs. After settling into your charming central hotel, you'll have free time to wander the town's cobbled streets, marvel at the colourful restored colonial buildings or browse the myriad of street stalls. Enjoy an optional night out with your fellow adventures before getting some rest ahead of your epic adventure starting tomorrow.

Day 2

Hike Pacaya Volcano and Cerro Grande (2561m)

Two hikers descending Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala.

Hiking

4hrs · 11km · 850m up · 850m down

Driving

2hrs

In the morning you'll get straight to the task at hand: volcano trekking! You'll meet the group and drive to the trailhead of Pacaya National Park, lace up your hiking boots and hit the trail for what is an ideal acclimatisation trek. The route weaves first through steep dense forests and green slopes reaching the summit Cerro Grande (2561m), overlooking the imposing cone of Pacaya volcano (2552m). Next you'll descend along the base and black flanks of Pacaya, through ancient lava fields formed by eruptions as recent as 2010. Geothermal hotspots can be found on the cooled lava formations. As a young active volcano, the summit of Pacaya is often closed for safety reasons by the local authorities so reaching the top is not always possible. However trekking this spectacular circuit route and getting close to it will be equally rewarding. You'll head back to Antigua for the evening: grab a beer and some classic Central American food from Antigua's many street stalls, bars, restaurants and cafes, then rest up for your epic Acatenango climb tomorrow.

Day 3

Acatenango Volcano climb and overnight camp (3575m)

View of Fuego volcano eruption from Acatenango basecamp, Guatemala.

Hiking

5hrs · 7km · 1170m up

Grab a big breakfast in Antigua before driving for an hour to the trailhead at La Soledad. Prepare for a challenging climb up the imposing Acatenango slopes, but the reward at the top will be more than worth the effort! Set off through farmland and small villages, before ascending steeply into a beautiful cloud forest. This is an area of high biodiversity, home to the famous Quetzal bird. You'll soon be greeted with sweeping views of the highlands and neighbouring volcanoes:, the perfect time for a picnic on the volcano slopes. Continue up through temperate forest until you'll reach your private camp spot at 3750m above sea level. You’ll then enjoy dinner around the campfire and hopefully the show of a lifetime, the continuously erupting Fuego Volcano (just 4km away) belching fumes and lava into the night sky.

Day 4

Summit Acatenango Volcano (3976m) at sunrise

Female hiker at the summit of Acatenango volcano pointing towards the erupting Fuego volcano, Guatemala.

Hiking

4-5 hours · 8km · 400m up · 1550m down

Driving

3.5hrs

You'll rise early before sunrise to complete the hour-long hike to the top of Acatenango at 3976m. The final stretch to the summit along scree and sand becomes steeper and loose underfoot but once at the top your efforts will be quickly repaid by sweeping 360-degree views of the entire Guatemalan highlands, all the way to the border of Mexico. Next, you’ll descend through several different micro-climates as you lose altitude. Back at the trailhead, you'll jump in the van and head towards Guatemala's second largest city, Quetzaltenango - also known by its Mayan name, Xela. Check into your hotel and enjoy a free evening in this lively city.

Day 5

Hike Chicabal Volcano (2845m) and relax in natural hot springs

Chicabal Volcano Sacred Crater Lake, Guatemala.

Hiking

2-3hrs · 7km · 400m up · 400m down

Driving

3.5hrs

Next up is your third volcano, Chicabal. There is a one hour drive to reach Laguna Seca where the hike begins. Today's summit is an easier hike taking you up to a sacred site in the Guatemalan highlands, to a mystical lagoon that sits within the crater of Chicabal volcano. The site represents the centre of the cosmos for the Mam Maya, and traditional ceremonies sometimes take place at the lake. After descending from the volcano there is a short journey to Fuentes Georginas to bathe in the natural hot springs before returning to Xela for the evening.

Day 6

Summit Tajumulco Volcano - Central America's Highest Point (4220m)

Sunset at the summit of Acatenango, Guatemala.

Hiking

5-6hrs · 12km · 1219m up · 255m down

Driving

3hrs

Another early start and a three-hour drive to San Sebastian, close to the Mexican border, sets the base for your climb up Tajumulco, Guatemala's highest volcano and the highest point in Central America. Today is a long day with around five hours of hiking. There are beautiful forest trails and pine-studded ridges on the way to your campsite for the night. You'll put your head down to sleep at approximately 3965m above sea level - but not just yet. From the camp, the volcano summit is a steep 30-minute climb, topping out at 4220m. You're officially on top of Central America! Another awesome night of wild volcano camping awaits on the short descent back to camp.

Day 7

Descend Tajumulco and drive to Lake Atitlan

Boat ride along Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

Hiking

1 hour · 2.5km · 436m down

Driving

4.5hrs

Wake up on the volcano and make your descent down Tajumulco. You have a long drive to recover on, with a lunch stop en route, through the Guatemalan highlands to spectacular Lake Atitlán. You'll take a boat across the lake from Panajachel to your lakeside eco-hotel in the small but lively town of San Pedro. The rest of the evening is free to relax and enjoy this special place. Head into town or just lie in a hammock and bask in the views of water and fire - lake and volcanoes all around you.

Day 8

Hike up San Pedro Volcano (2988m)

Group hiking up through forest at San Pedro Volcano, Guatemala.

Hiking

5hrs · 9km · 1230m up · 1230m down

You may have been relaxing, but this adventure isn't over yet! Today is your fifth and final volcano: Volcán San Pedro. After breakfast beside the lake, you'll take a short transfer to the trailhead. Experience your final epic hike through a cloud forest, with sweeping highland vistas and spectacular views back down towards Lake Atitlán. At approximately 3000m, San Pedro volcano is no baby, but it's a fitting place to end your volcano hiking adventure. Back in San Pedro, maybe head out with your fellow adventurers and guides for a night of celebration!

Day 9

Unwind at Lake Atitlan and head back to Antigua

Lake Atitlan with beautiful sunset colours and the silhouette of volcanoes in the background, Guatemala.

Driving

2.5hrs

Congratulations, you've summited five volcanoes in a week! You've certainly earned a rest this morning, so the lake and eco-hotel are yours to soak up as you wish. There are kayaks available, or you can choose to visit the neighbouring village of San Juan, the perfect place to shop for traditional handicrafts and souvenirs. Early afternoon you'll head back to Antigua for a final evening, celebrating your adventure with your group.

Day 10

Goodbye Guatemala!

Group of hikers watching sunset at the summit of Acatenango, Guatemala.

Enjoy breakfast in Antigua and any spare time you may have before your host takes you back to the airport in Guatemala City for your departure flight.

Included

Guides

Expert, English-speaking local guides

Accommodation

7 nights in local hotels. 2 nights camping on volcanoes.

Transfers

To and from the airport, and everything in between

Meals

8 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 2 dinners of tasty Central American food

Equipment

All of the camping equipment for sleeping on the Acatenango and Tajumulco volcanoes is provided

Permits

All permits and entry fees

Not Included

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Some meals as described

Tips for your guides

Flights to and from the meeting point

Visas where required

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Wild camping · Twin tent

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4 – Day 5

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6

Wild camping · Twin tent

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 7

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 8

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 9

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 10

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Traditional Guatemalan breakfast of eggs, black beans, & fried plantain with tortillas wrapped in basket on handwoven Maya textile.

Traditional Guatemalan food is based on Maya cuisine with Spanish influences. Classic meals usually include corn, beans, chillies, rice, pork, beef, chicken, cheese and tortillas as staple ingredients. Delicious picnic lunches are provided on hiking days. Your host has deliberately not included the evening meals in Antigua, Xela and Atitlan in your trip as it's great fun to explore the food options in each place. Antigua in particular is a food lover's dream, the street food scene here is worth investing some time and Quetzals in. Camp dinners on Acatenango and Tajumulco are real highlights of the trip. Your guide will prep Guatemalan food on the slopes while you take in the views of the neighbouring, and often erupting, volcanic peaks.

Vegetarians, vegans and most other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please make requests known in advance on your passenger info form. Bear in mind that vegetarian and vegan options in Central America can be limited, meaning less variety of ingredients.

What is the accommodation like?

Casa Antigua, Antigua, Guatemala
Antigua Hotel

In Antigua your base will be at Casa Antigua (or similar), set in a historical building with lush green courtyards and just a 2-minute walk away from Antigua's central park. Guests can also use the swimming pool and sauna at the hotel's sister property nearby for a small extra fee. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with an en-suite bathroom.

Room at Hotel Modelo, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
Quetzaltenango Hotel

In Quetzaltenango you'll usually stay in Hotel Modelo (or Casa Morales), a charming, historic 3-star hotel run by four generations of the same family. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with an en-suite bathroom.

Hotel Sak'cari El Amanecer, San Pedro La Laguna, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Lake Atitlan Hotel

At Lake Atitlan you'll stay at Hotel Sak'cari El Amanecer in San Pedro La Laguna (or similar). This is a hotel right on the waterfront, run on renewable energy and with an amazing pool with views of the lake and volcanoes. It's the perfect spot to wind down after all the volcano action. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with private bathroom.

Basecamp at Acatenango volcano, Guatemala.
Volcano Camping

You'll also camp on volcanoes Acatenango and Tajumulco. All of your camping gear is provided: tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag. Be advised that night time on the volcanoes can be very cold, so do bring warm layers with you. There will be campfires to keep you toasty at dinner time, while stargazing and watching Fuego volcano do its thing.

Upgrades

All hotel rooms and tents on the trip are based on twin sharing. So for solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room and tent can be booked throughout the trip (subject to availability). See Optional Extras for prices.

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

La Aurora International Airport, Guatemala City (GUA)

Arrive any time on Day 1

Ends

La Aurora International Airport, Guatemala City (GUA)

Depart any time on Day 10

Transfers

Transfers between La Aurora International Airport (GUA) and your hotel in Antigua are provided for any flight arriving on Day 1, and departing on Day 10 of the trip. If you wish to arrive earlier or stay on later, your host can arrange private transfers for an additional cost. See Optional Extras for details.

Travel options

There are direct flights to La Aurora International Airport, Guatemala City from many destinations in the US, and via Madrid from Europe.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • All of the camping equipment for sleeping on the Acatenango and Tajumulco volcanoes is provided (tents, sleeping mat and sleeping bag)

What do I need to bring?

Bags

  • Soft duffel bag or rucksack (your main travel luggage that gets moved between hotels for you)
  • Daypack approx. 35l+ (for trekking with, including for the overnight camps where you'll be carrying water, food, personal belongings)
  • Waterproof liner for rucksack or drybags

Clothes

  • Down jacket
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Breathable wicking layers
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Thermals (merino is best)
  • Warm hat
  • Two buffs or neck scarf
  • Gloves
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear & socks
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Hiking boots (worn-in)
  • Sandals

Other

  • Walking poles (recommended)
  • Padlock for left luggage
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Spare camera batteries
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel Insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Insect repellant
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry out)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Headtorch or torch
  • Reusable water bottle x 1 ltr
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Double/Twin room in Antigua

Payable Before Departure

Double/Twin room in Antigua

Per Night

Single room in Antigua

Payable Before Departure

Single room in Antigua

Per Night

Private Solo Room & Tent Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Private Solo Room & Tent Upgrade

Private transfer between Guatemala City and Antigua (each way, per vehicle for 1-3 people)

Payable Before Departure

Private transfer between Guatemala City and Antigua (each way, per vehicle for 1-3 people)

Katherine P.(April 2024)
Experience beyond compare

We had a brilliant experience on the 5 volcano’s trip in Guatemala. The hikes were challenging but manageable for the whole group and very rewarding! The landscapes were beautiful and the experience was elevated by the energy of our guides Joel, Vini and Rudy. Their infectious energy, enthusiasm and support kept us motivated and their adaptability ensured we got the best experience possible. Couldn’t have asked for a better adventure or a better group of people to share it with.

Antonina B.(April 2024)
Fantastic trip!

Absolutely fantastic challenge! As mentioned by others, the adventure is indeed challenging but very rewarding. I can't recommend it enough!

We were lucky to have a fabulous local crew from Old Town outfitters and incredible group of hikers! The views you'd see on this trip are to remember for life!

As a famous slogan says JUST DO IT!

P.S. Huge thanks to Joel and David for keeping us safe, motivated and entertained, to Viny for keeping us well fed, to Henry for delivering us safe and sound to all destinations! <3

Elizabeth D.(April 2024)
Seeing a live volcano... a lifetime experience

An outstanding all round trip. Seeing a live volcano (Fuego) was a lifetime experience. The organisation and tempo of the trip was outstanding. The hikes were well paced, and the views stunning. I loved the 2 overnight camps/sunrises which adds to the adventure. The guides and wider support team were very helpful, professional, fun and engaging which added to great dynamics. We also had a great group; which I expect is typical of the sort of people who travel with MBA. I strongly recommend you take walking poles. Also very good value for the amount we achieved in such a short space of time. Ensure chose the right time of year; when not too hot, but when the rainy season has passed so likely to have clear views.

Jurriën K.(April 2024)
Unforgettable experience

This is an awesome trip at the top of my list of experiences! If you like being out and active, beautiful views and experience the impressive power of volcanoes.

The guides are really professional, friendly and take good care of you. The group dynamics were great, everyone is excited to share this experience.

Just to provide some reference for others: I didn't have much hiking experience, but I'm an active runner and cycler, 40 years old. I loved the physical activity, obviously the hikes cost quite some energy, but I could do them all all without too much challenge. Others indicated they had to push themselves more to complete the trip, but I think anyone who is active and up for it can do it!

Insights:

  • I never used poles before, but glad I brought a pair
  • I used trail running shoes, which were perfect mostly and would choose them again. Would wear higher socks next time though.
  • I had 1 fleece and 1 warm jacket, this was sufficient. Gloves are nice at dawn hikes.
  • I used a 2l water bladder, it's really nice to be able to easily drink whenever you feel like it without having to stop. And electrolytes!
  • No need to worry about baggage, they drive everything between each hotel.
  • Not needed: Water purification . First-aid kit (guides had this), biodegradable bags.
Rachel H.(April 2024)
A brilliant trip: physically and

A brilliant trip: physically and mentally demanding, but so worth it. The views were epic, the guides were patient and motivating, the rest of the adventurers were legends.

Along with what others have said, walking poles are a real asset, you probably won't need waterproof trousers or water purification tablets.

It would be great if more opportunities to swim could be built into the schedule. Lake Atitlan is too polluted.

Look out for the manageress at the hotel in Lake Atitlan. She's from the Basil Fawlty school of hoteliers!

Thanks to Jose, David, and especially Vini. The only reason I made it up San Pedro volcano is because it's his favourite!

Justin B.(March 2024)
Great Volcano Hiking

We had an excellent experience, the guides were professional, friendly and with a very good energy. They made sure everything ran smoothly even when the unexpected happened. Food was also great. Guatemala has great culture and the hikes are challenging but also manageable. Seeing volcanoes in person is something everyone who gets the chance should do!

Susan P.(March 2024)
Just go do it!

Fabulous scenery amazing guides incredibly friendly locals. All hotel where basic but comfortable with good breakfasts and helpful staff. Our driver did a great job too only criticism was that there was bit too much driving but it was worth it to climb San Pedro volcano. So lovely in the forest and not busy like the taller more famous volcanos and to see and travel on lake Atitlan. Dispite being such a disparate group we did become a team...

Dan H.(March 2024)
Lovely adventure. First day was

Lovely adventure.

First day was way longer then expected. I did not mind but could have been good to be prepeared for a long day.

It is a tough adventure for sure but not impossible. Can deffently recomend. Very skillful and lively guides. Execellent food throughot

Some notes on the packing list:

You will need: -walking poles -warm gloves

You will not need: -waterpurification tablets.

Katharine S.(March 2024)
I couldn’t find a single

I couldn’t find a single fault with the trip; amazing staff, excellent choice of hotels, all food provided was delicious, well organised and, although a challenge, extremely rewarding. Despite more than half the other travellers being thirty plus years younger than me Pepi, Vinnie and Jerry made sure I accomplished every volcano, they were patient and supportive throughout.

Richard H.(March 2024)
A fantastic and challenging trip.

A fantastic trip run by Pepian, Vinnie and Jerry. They couldn't have been more encouraging or have made it more fun. Our group was made up of speedsters and us slower people. They handled the difference well. Vinnie was the cook and made sure we were all fueled up on the camping trips. Gerry helped develop my Spanish and Pepian made sure it all ran smoothly while making some good conversation. My group all had an ace time.

Kasey C.(March 2024)
Highly recommend!

I recently participated in Much Better Adventure's Guatemala 5 Volcano Challenge that was locally run by Old Town Outfitters. It was spectacular. The guides (Pepian, Luis and Josias) were so caring, knowledgeable and fun. They were able to accommodate for a wide range of hiking paces and dietary restrictions. We quite literally couldn't have done it without them!

I know I read a ton of reviews when prepping for this trip so here are a couple tips/insights that my group agreed on:

  • Hiking poles are a must. Everyone that didn't bring some ended up using a stick.
  • It gets very dusty so I would recommend bringing some wipes to clean up especially on the nights you camp.
  • You are going to be hiking all over Guatemala so you will be in the bus for chunks of time. It's just part of the deal so make sure you're prepared with headphones and portable chargers.
  • The "challenging" classification is accurate. You are hiking for 7 days in a row so while it's doable be prepared to be tired/sore/challenged!

Overall this trip was a great way to see Guatemala and I would highly recommend it to any hiker in my life!

James B.(February 2024)
Amazing 100% recommend

Amazing trip highly recommend for those look to explore Central America the accommodation was really good and when camp everything is taken care of for you the food throughout the trip was delicious and the guides did everything in there power to make sure you enjoyed the trip going out of there way to make it happen would like to thank Joel Mateo our lead guide Josias Back our chef and guide Rudy Tala who sorted all the kit and guide.

Mark D.(February 2024)
Volcano Challenge - Guatemala

The trip was a fabulous experience, a real lifetime memory!! Experiencing Fuego explode in anger is something I will never forget.

All hikes were challenging in their own right, the trip is for sure a 4/5 difficulty so please don't expect an easy ride!! But it is worthwhile for sure.

The guides were fabulous, in particular Joel (lead), Josias (cook and bottle washer) and of course Rudy (dimple master!!)

Accommodation at each location was much better than basic and the mattresses provided at camp were exceptional.

We did spend a little too much time in the bus on one day in particular, circa 6.5 hours, and this part of the trip needs re-thinking by MBA IMHO.

But apart from that one very small negative I would recommend this trip to everyone with a sense of adventure and who like steep and long hikes x

Emeline R.(January 2024)
Elevated adventure in Guatemala!

I recommend this trip 100%! Everything was well organized, and the guides made sure we were comfy and safe every step of the way. Even though the hikes were challenging at times, the views were absolutely worth it.

Eimear R.(January 2024)
Excellent trip and incredibly well

Excellent trip and incredibly well organised.

Claire J.(January 2024)

Incredible

Albert W.(January 2024)
A challenging hike in a wonderful country

A very challenging hike up 5 of Guatemala’s volcanoes. To be quite honest it was tougher than I thought it would be when booking. The guides were the highlight Luis, Diana and David were great. They got us up all five volcanoes safely and with good humour. Diana’s food was sublime. It was amazing what she could produce in a small tent on the side of a volcano. From booking to the drive to the airport on the way home everything worked seamlessly I recommend this trip and MBV Thank you

Cole N.(January 2024)
Hiking volcanoes in Guatemala was

Hiking volcanoes in Guatemala was amazing enough, but the guides were so outgoing and patient that it really elevated the trip.

Marisa B.(January 2024)
Unreal

This was the trip of a lifetime! Seeing Fuego erupt from Acatenango base camp is an experience that will stay with me forever. Joel, Josias, and Luis were fantastic guides. Our driver , Marcello, was also amazing. While INCREDIBLY strenuous, I loved summitting 5 volcanoes with our wonderful team. Thank you for the memories!

Dorit M.(January 2024)
Not recommended especially for people with food restrictions

Company or that specific location in Guatemala not very organized or accurate. Also I was promised to follow my food restrictions and found myself hungry after every meal. As the trip progressed I had less and less food that fitted my needs. Even the last dinner/restaurant was chosen with everything I can't or want to eat.

David A.(January 2024)
Organisation was bellow expectation. A

Organisation was bellow expectation. A lot of time has been wasted due to a poor organisation: there was always something missing. As a consequence, the real start for hiking was always late, very often after the clear morning skies.

Daily briefings never matched the real distance for the day, it was always shorter, sometimes significantly. explanations were "we are lacking time".

It was a surprise to have to carry our water for multiple days. In all multi-day hikes I have made before, you only carry your water for the day, and can refill at the camp.

The tour was asking to be physically fit and with that I was expecting a more dynamic group. It was not the case and we had to wait constantly for the slower participants.

I have traveled many countries (over 110) and many of them by organising the tour myself. What I expect when I book an organised tour is a professional organisation that will save me time and help me packing a maximum of activities in a limited time allocated for holidays. On this front you have failed, my overall feeling is that I would have achieved more by organising the hikes myself with local guides.

Altogether, was not my expectations for active holidays.

Jess(November 2023)

An unforgettable experience - the hikes were hard but the views were well worth the effort. The guides were so supportive, and the food was tasty and provided in huge quantities to keep us going on the hikes. Our group had the added complication of having to navigate national protests, but both the MBA & local team went above & beyond to ensure we were kept in the loop before & during the trip. Adventure of a lifetime!

Jennie(October 2023)

Brilliant tour - once in a lifetime experiences packed together into nine days that I will never forget!

Lee A.(August 2023)